Squiz Today / 15 August 2019

Squiz Today – Thursday, 15 August


“At the precise moment I realised I could try to become an Anglican priest, I was baking a particularly luscious chocolate cake and accidentally listening to an Anglican woman reading a piece of scripture.”

And that’s just a little bit of former high-flying corporate lawyer Kathryn Watt’s story. Also of note: it was Kathryn who asked former Labor leader Bill Shorten the question on ABC TV’s Q&A that generated one of the biggest moments of the recent federal election campaign. Please welcome the Squizing Vicar of Holy Trinity Balaclava and Elwood to this week’s Three Minute Squiz.


Ever gone to a meeting where everyone is being utterly professional, but you know they all have a problem with you? That's PM Scott Morrison's predicament at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Tuvalu with climate change front and centre in the discussion.

It's been game on for Morrison from the get-go - and we’re not referring to the reviews his snazzy sandals would have garnered from his counterparts… New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern yesterday declared“Australia has to answer to the Pacific” on our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. And while she and other Pacific leaders say they're concerned about what they see as the slow pace of our approach to address climate change, Team Morrison pointed to the extent of our commitment to helping Pacific nations including $800 million in funding for climate 'resilience' projects for the region (compared to NZ's $500 million).

Occupying the minds of our representatives there today is the question of what leaders will formally commit to after reports said small nations want Australia to say we'll move away from coal. "We wouldn't want to see talks break down, but every country has their position," said our Minister for the Pacific Alex Hawke. And Australia's position is we're going to keep using and mining coal for some time to come. Seeking context, Hawke has been at pains to point out that Australia has 20 of the world’s 2,459 operating coal mines (note: they’re big ones - Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal). He also says we're the “number one contributor” helping the Pacific region manage the effects of global warming. Meanwhile, Labor’s Penny Wong said more action on climate change at home would help Morrison and Co gain the trust of the region.



Alleged attacker Mert Ney (20yo) remains in hospital undergoing mental health assessments. Reports say it’s expected charges will be laid against him today. Some developments of note:

• The victims have been named. Michaela Dunn (known by her friends as Mikki) was found dead in an apartment on Clarence Street. She was 24yo. And Linda Bo (41yo) was stabbed in a random attack - she remains in hospital.

• Ney’s sister (who did not want her first name disclosed) yesterday addressed the media calling his actions “something so despicable”. “I’m shocked, angry, disgusted, I hate my last name,” she said.

• And Seven yesterday broadcast footage showing Ney pausing for a selfie as he left the Clarence Street apartment where it’s alleged he killed Dunn. He went on to stab Bo and threaten other city-goers before he was detained by bystanders and arrested by police.


Or rather, it was listening until a couple of weeks ago. Bloomberg yesterday reported the social media giant had been paying hundreds of contractors to listen to audio messages on its Messenger app and transcribe them - the good, the bad and the ugly. The reason - to check its artificial intelligence programs correctly interpreted the messages. And the company said it was fine to do that because the affected users opted to have their chats transcribed. Facebook is not on its lonesome when it comes to 'human reviews' of users' audio files. Amazon, Apple and Google have all eavesdropped… sorry… 'accessed their users' content’ when their permission settings allowed it. Critics say many users would consider it an invasion of privacy.


Some significant stats were released yesterday, so hold on tight:

• 53% - That’s how much populations of forest-living birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined between 1970 and 2014. The reason for the decline is habitat loss and degradation of the world’s forests, according to the World Wilderness Fund.

• 0.6% - That's how much wages grew in the April-to-June quarter. That puts annual wage growth at 2.3% - above inflation but not rocking our pay packet's socks off…

• 10% - that's the federal government's target smoking rate by 2025. Currently, 13.8% of Australian adults smoke every day. In 2001, it was 22.4%. The target was set by Health Minister Greg Hunt who yesterday unveiled the government’s 10-year health plan.


Ningali Lawford-Wolf died in Edinburgh on Sunday from an asthma attack. The 52yo actress was in the UK performing in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Secret River. Appearing in films including Rabbit-Proof FenceBran Nue Dae, and Last Cab to Darwin, Lawford-Wolf also recently became a director of an Indigenous-owned cattle station in the Kimberley. And the Aussie Rules football community yesterday mourned the death of Graham' Polly' Farmer. A trailblazer for Indigenous players, as well as Indigenous sportspeople more broadly, he was regarded as one of the best ruckmen the game has ever seen. He was 84yo and had Alzheimer's disease for more than a decade.


It's widely considered the most famous car in the world, and when it goes under the hammer today in California, James Bond’s iconic 1965 Aston Martin is expected to fetch up to A$8.8 million. Silver-grey in colour, featured in the film Goldfinger and equipped with a built-in machine gun, smoke-exhaling fenders and rotating number-plates, it would be perfect for an everyday runabout. Not to be outdone, Porsche is also getting in on the nostalgia-action this weekend, auctioning off the very first car to bear its famous badge. Built in 1939 for the express purpose of running in a trans-Europe race that was never held, the flimsy, space-age design makes the Porsches that came after it seem impossibly robust and stylish by comparison. If you’re thinking it might be for you, check your bank balance for a spare A$30 million…


If you had a choice, would you prefer to encounter a human-sized penguin or a child-sized parrot? All we know is there was something in New Zealand’s water a few million years ago…


ABS Data Release - Labour Force, July; Average Weekly Earnings, May; Overseas Arrivals and Departures, June

Company Earnings Results - Blackmores; QBE Insurance; Super Retail Group; Telstra

Gibraltar Supreme Court decision due on the detention of Iranian tanker

India’s National day

Start of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock Music Festival (on until 17 August)

Birthdays for Princess Anne (1950), Ben Affleck (1972), Jennifer Lawrence (1990)

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